Church of England Diocese of Manchester Bury (St. Mary)

The Wedding at Cana

24 Jan 2021, midnight
From_the_Vicar Notices

Revealed his Glory (John 2.1-11)

There is a technique in filming making called “Show don’t tell.” Film allows the viewer to see what is going on, with all the added richness of sound alongside the power of the visuals. Film is a vehicle for story-telling. We, the viewer, find ourselves standing alongside the characters in the story and if the film is well made, we feel their motions and follow their inner lives as well as their outer ones.

The story John tells of the Wedding Feast at Cana is cinematic. The ’camera’ switches from person to person, from Mary to Jesus to steward to waiters and finally to bridegroom. As we hear this familiar text, we find ourselves looking into the expressive faces of the players, betraying concern, irritation, surprise, amusement and bewilderment mixed with relief.

If we were film students, new to the game, we might choose to tell this story with constant attention to water, mixing moments of actors faces with what is happening as the various vessels move around the room until the steward does a double-take at what he is offered. In other words, we would fixate on the changing of water into wine. We would, as they say, foreground the liquid. We might think that that is what we should be showing our audience.

John tells the story in another way. For John, whatever is happening to vessels is secondary. It is what is happening elsewhere, almost off-screen, that is the key. This story is about people’s reaction to Jesus. Mary puts in one of her two appearances here. Her reaction is one of utter confidence that Jesus’ presence will bring joy. The disciples that Jesus brought along with him to the wedding (Jesus turning up at least five extras would make a funny moment in the film) react right at the end to what they have seen. In essence, John’s Director’s Cut follows this story through their eyes. They observe. They see something in their new Rabbi. John describes this as revealed glory. We need a filmmaker with the skills of Pasolini or Spielberg to catch that moment.